The newly launched Tripoli-based airline Libyan Wings has signed an $800m deal with Airbus for three A350-900s and four A320neos.

The new airline is due to start operations for both charter passenger and freight from the beginning of next year.

Speaking at Dubai Airshow, Wisam al-Masri, chairman of Libyan Wings, said that despite the political instability seen in Libya, the aviation sector continues to see strong passenger demand.

He added that, within five years, the airline aims to increase its fleet to 10 aircraft.

Libya is also expanding its airport infrastructure with the new larger Tripoli International airport due to be completed in 2018. Libyan Wings will play a key role in supporting the improvement of the country’s infrastructure.

The airline’s network will be focused on the North Africa and Middle East market, but Al-Masri said Libyan Wings could be the “first [Libyan] airline to fly into Europe soon”.

The European Commission currently bans Libyan airlines from entering Europe due to safety issues.

Libyan Wings’ aircraft order includes the new A350 XWB, which can seat more than 300 passengers and has the 18-inch economy seat width. It is also designed to be more fuel-efficient that previous aircraft models of the same size. To date Airbus has 764 firm orders for the aircraft.

The new airline is being privately funded by a group of Libyan businessmen.